President Obama said in his State of the Union speech, "We've already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings."
That was reassuring.
The new budget he released this week promises $4 trillion in "deficit reduction" -- about half in tax increases and half in spending cuts. But like most politicians, Obama misleads.
Cato Institute economist Dan Mitchell cut through the fog to get at the truth of the $2 trillion "cut."
"We have a budget of, what, almost $4 trillion? So if we're doing $2 trillion of cuts," Mitchell said, "we're cutting government in half. That sounds wonderful."
But what the president was talking about is not even a cut. The politicians just agreed that over the next 10 years, instead of increasing spending by $9.48 trillion, they'd increase it by "just" $7.3 trillion. Calling that a "cut" is nonsense.
Mitchell gave an analogy: "What if I came to you and said, 'I've been on a diet for the last month, and I've gained 10 pounds. Isn't that great?' You would say: 'Wait, what are you talking about? That's insane.' And I said: 'I was going to gain 15 pounds. I've only gained 10 pounds, therefore my diet is successful.'"
Democrats use this deceit when they want more social spending. Republicans use it for military spending.
And the press buys it. The Washington Post has been writing about "draconian cuts."
"The politicians know this game," Mitchell said. "The special interests know this game. Everyone gets a bigger budget every year. ... And we wind up, sooner or later, being Greece."
We are definitely on the road to bankruptcy.